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Dealing with drought problems

Don't get caught in a drought without water or food for your animals. Obviously, you can't control the weather, but you can plan ahead to handle a drought situation.

Radio interview source: Dr. Charles Stoltenow, Extension Veterinarian, North Dakota State University

Listen here to the radio story (mp3) or read below

Drought can affect the health of both animals and land. Charles Stoltenow is a veterinarian at North Dakota State University. He recommends using supplemental feed.

"We want to make that range, that grassland, or whatever they're on last as long as possible if they have access to it. And that means we would actually suggest that we don't let them continually graze," Stoltenow says. "If we want to make our acreages or our pastures last longer, we let them graze for awhile, then we lock them back up, make them eat some supplemental feed or something like that."

Because it's so dry, the livestock aren't getting adequate intake of energy, protein, and trace minerals from the forage. They can develop what's called dust or pasture pneumonia. 

It's absolutely critical that you supply enough water for them to drink, even if you have to haul water to the pasture. Stoltenow advises that you not let animals drink out of dug-outs or streams that are starting to dry up.

"All the salts and minerals and other things are in the water, and as the water dries up they become more and more concentrated," he says. "So we can have cases of nitrate poisoning, we can see cases of blue-green algae. it's called cynobacteria poisoning from overgrowth of certain types of cynobacteria in the water.  And then we also see a lot more conditions of simple foot rot."

Foot rot can happen when the animals wallow in the mud to cool off their feet. Their feet soften up, the mud dries, and they develop cracks in their hooves. It's better to fence off those areas and keep the animals out until normal water levels return. 

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